Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) called for her colleague Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) to resign Wednesday in light of the sexual misconduct allegations he faces from multiple women including radio anchor Leeann Tweeden who released photographic evidence that he groped her while she slept. Hirono previously claimed calls for Franken’s resignation were a “distraction” because “what’s really at the bottom of this whole issue of sexual harassment is that it is pervasive in our culture.”
“I’ve struggled with this decision because he’s been a good Senator and I consider him a friend,” Hirono admitted in her statement Wednesday, “but that cannot excuse his behavior and his mistreatment of women.”
“TIME Magazine, by naming ‘The Silence Breakers’ as their ‘People of the Year,’ is recognizing what women have always known: there are men among us who use their positions of power and influence to manipulate, harass, and assault women,” Hirono added.
“We can only create a culture where women are respected as equals if we all step forward and be part of the change by holding everyone, especially our leaders, accountable,” she concluded.
Her statement was quite an about-face from her November Meet the Press interview where she declined to call for the resignation of Franken or Rep. John Conyers (D-MI).
“I think that that is a distraction to be talking about resignation,” she said at the time. “Al will be going through the ethics probe. He’ll be cooperating, and that’s appropriate. Because people who do these kinds of indefensible acts have to be held accountable.”
When asked by NBC’s Katy Tur about allegations against former president Bill Clinton she said people needed to “move forward.”
“He went through an impeachment process as a result of his actions,” she said. “I certainly do not defend his indefensible actions, but let’s move forward. Talking about Bill Clinton should not be a shield to the rest of us talking about what are we going to do about this going forward.”
Along with Hirono, a group of eleven Democratic senators are now calling for Franken’s resignation including Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Kamala Harris (D-CA). A seventh accuser told Politico Wednesday morning that Franken attempted to forcibly kiss her in 2006, an allegation Franken denies.